Sunday, December 24, 2017

Judwaa 2: Review

Judwaa 2 is unbelievably shoddy filmmaking but, really, who’s surprised? Even in his ‘90s heyday, it wasn’t like David Dhawan was making better films. In my (admittedly unenamoured) recollection, they were all unapologetically silly and blithely sexist, saved by the motormouth charm of Govinda (and sometimes by the goofiness of Salman Khan, back when he had comic timing). Sure, they were popular, but that was the ‘90s, when our directors still thought of lisping as hilarious.

Dhawan still finds lisping hilarious: Nandu (Rajpal Yadav), the hero’s best friend, turns R’s into L’s and nearly everything into indecipherable mush. Here are some other things the director finds funny: backsides being slapped, crotches being pummeled, a British cop saying “kutte kameene”, characters named Pappu Passport, lines like “door se dekha toh Alia Bhatt, paas aa kar dekha toh Mahesh Bhatt”. Again, this is no surprise. Dhawan has always sold the public on juvenile humour. But to everything, there is a season.

In Judwaa 2 (a reboot of Dhawan’s 1997 film Judwaa, which starred Salman Khan), Varun Dhawan plays twins separated at birth, both physically and geographically. Because they were born conjoined, the brothers have a unique connection that kicks in whenever they’re near each other—they experience the same sensations, to the extent of mimicking each other’s actions. Mild-mannered Prem grows up in London, the brash Raja in Mumbai. But when Raja seriously injures a bully who picks on Nandu, he’s packed off to London by well-wishers.

While still on the plane, Raja finds himself fondling passengers, his actions dictated by his proximity to Prem (who’s playing piano). If this is your idea of Good Old-fashioned Entertainment, there’s a happy two hours ahead of you, with punches and kisses executed by one twin and repeated by the other. The female leads, Jacqueline Fernandez and Taapsee Pannu, are there to play dumb and be grabbed at. It’s not worth getting steamed up about the sexual politics of such a straightforwardly unthinking production, though it must take a fair amount of self-delusion on the part of the makers to have Raja beat up a group of molesters when he’s pretty much one himself.

I usually give films with dialogue by Sajid-Farhad a wide berth, preferring instead to visit the dentist, where the pain at least has a point. Their work in Judwaa 2 (the screenplay’s by Yunus Sajawal) is even less appealing when you compare it to some of the sparkling comic writing we’ve seen this year, in Meri Pyari Bindu and Bareilly Ki Barfi and Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, films that have the courtesy to not treat the viewer like a child. Leave your brain at the door, they used to say about Dhawan’s films. I did that today, and when I picked it up on the way out, it thanked me.

This review appeared in Mint.

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